Since March last year, over a hundred hotels in Malaysia have shut down, and more premises are expected to cease operations in the months to come.
In a statement, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said that further hotel closures are a "hard reality" brought on by the pandemic of Covid-19.
The second control order of the revolution that started in January deprived the industry of any hope of this year's recovery. "For every two weeks of MCO, the industry is set to lose, on average, a minimum of RM300mil in revenue after losing an estimated RM6.5bil last year," a statement from MAH said.
The association is calling on the government to help survive the pandemic in the Malaysian tourism and hospitality industry. MAH recently submitted to the Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture a 19-point plan.
Higher wage subsidies, a utility discount and a loan moratorium are some of the measures.
Datuk N. Subramaniam, president of MAH, said the government needs to inject even more help to keep the industry competitive.
The tourism and hospitality industry employs 3.6 million people and is a significant contributor to the economy and the people of the country and must not be allowed to collapse.
"We need to be prepared for recovery and maintain our tourism capacity and the region's competitiveness," he said.
MAH also indicated that the government placed the tourism and hospitality workers on the priority list of the immunization program after frontliners plan and reassure the world that Malaysia is able to accept foreign visitors once the borders reopen, alongside high-risk groups.
The sentiment of Oyo vice president (Malaysia & Singapore) Tan Ming Luk to vaccinate tourism workers is echoed.
"With the supply of vaccines initially limited, access to frontliners in key sectors, including hospitality, will be critical for maintaining the economy and running communities, protecting staff and reducing the likelihood of crippling clusters emanating from the workplace," he said.
The hospitality industry has not been idle during this pandemic, according to Tan.
We have supported communities in Malaysia, providing places to rest for weary key staff such as hospital workers, caregivers and first responders, as well as a temporary home base for those who live too far from their workplace, especially those who depend on public transport during 'MCO 2.0' with reduced service hours," he said. "
The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has called on the government to take stakeholders in the tourism industry seriously in a separate development, or the nation will lose its competitive tourism edge.
"It is well known that tourism growth was so much higher in the Asean countries (before the pandemic), while international arrivals to Malaysia have been declining since 2014," said Datuk Tan Kok Liang, president of Matta.
Tan stressed that the National Tourism Policy 2020-2030, launched at the end of last year, did not give much impetus to the pandemic-affected tourism sector.
Interestingly, under the new standard, the 143-page National Tourism Policy 2020-2030 did not discuss travel challenges or include any roadmap or structure for the next three years to revitalize the post-Covid-19 tourism industry,' he noted.
Domestic travel, which is crucial for the recovery of tourism, was also not stated in the strategy, according to Tan.
Tan added that in order to keep the tourism sector of the country competitive in the midst of Covid-19, the Tourism Industry Act 1992 must be amended accordingly.
In addition, the lack of compliance, a concern that has not changed regardless of the government of the day, has allowed our industry to sicken and weaken, further reducing our ability to compete regionally and develop our services and products,' he said.
Matta, Tan said, is ready to assist with the recovery efforts of tourism and advise on systemic improvements that are required in both the public and private sectors.
However, he added that "the impetus of change lies in the government's hands."
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